cirque
Los Angeles State Park
On through 9 August

http://www.cirqueberzerk.com/

In New York, there are plenty of new and experimental performances going on every day of the year (especially this month during the Fringe). In Los Angeles, however, not so much. This circus takes place through Sunday in the midst of the city’s somewhat refurbished state park. There’s still a big dusty lot which prohibits anyone from driving above 5 miles per hour for fear of a $300 ticket, but there are also patches of grass, walkways, and a pretty terrific view of the downtown skyline as the sun sets behind those shimmery buildings.

The team behind Cirque Bezerk has taken full advantage. There’s a lounge where you can grab a drink or catch an aftershow. There are kiosks for kettle corn and sodas. And there’s even a few spots to do your freak-show inspired shopping before you saunter into the big top. So the event of this Cirque is pretty cool. The show itself, however, will certainly not rank on your list of all-time great experiences.

Much like Cirque du Soleil, there is a slim, imaginative story which serves primarily to sandwich the grand feats of acrobatics in each number. The tale here is about a woman who just could not handle her hum-drum life anymore and said goodbye to the realm of the living, ending up in hell. And if we are heading down the River Styx, then the loud, maniacal rants of the show’s Charon character are in good order, even if his turn in the role is less than convincing. This is the circus, after all…what do you expect?

Well, for one, you would expect to be able to hear the original music to which the entire thing is set, but unfortunately those lyrics in a tent just end up being unintelligible as they fight with the rest of the sound components (audience chit-chat included). What IS worth seeing in this “Cabaret”-cum-“Dante’s Inferno” is the moves that some of this cast pulls off. Much like watching Cirque du Soleil (or Nancy Kerrigan for that matter), you’re just waiting for someone to bust it. It didn’t happen when I saw the show last weekend, thankfully. There are some great talents (and bodies) in the cast, but I can’t name names since this isn’t the kind of thing where one gets a programme at the start of the show.

The real freaky stuff which involves torches and the like doesn’t happen until the finale, unfortunately. It’s not even teased properly throughout the two acts. Cirque Bezerk is on its way to being a cool, freaky circus event, but it’s still carving out it’s own identity. More fire, less of the Sam Mendes stage pictures, please.